Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski joined the discussion on what the team should do with Jameis Winston.
While appearing on WDAE 95.3’s Ronnie & TKras show, the former sixth-round draft pick, and current Pro Football Focus analyst had this to say about Winston’s 2019 performance and potential future in Tampa:
“It’s tough,” Gradkowski said. “Because I think Winston this season, grading these guys for Pro Football Focus, I mean Winston has 31 big-time throws for us and the leader for us is Russell Wilson with 42, Rodgers 36, Wentz 33, Mahomes 31, and Winston 31, and that was over the regular season. He has the big play potential as we all see, but then the turnover worthy plays, the ones that make us lose sleep, why did you throw those? Why did you fumble in the pocket? So the thing I think about if you’re making that decision for the Bucs is – are you going to find better out there? Are you going to draft someone and find better or a veteran out there? I don’t know if you really will.”
The embattled first-overall selection is coming off a record season that saw him throw for an NFL league-leading 5109 yards to go along with 33 touchdowns
However, he also threw 30 interceptions. The first quarterback to reach the 30-interception plateau since also-former Buccaneer Vinny Testaverde tossed 35 in 1988.
Gradkowski believes a second year under head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will aid Winston in reducing his turnover totals:
“I think Winston, if you give him another year in this system he can really get better and be better in it and working with Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich another year, I think consistency will help more than changing and moving in a different direction. I think Winston also needs to understand that you have to protect the football. We’re losing a lot of games because of these significant turnovers, and not just the turnovers, but the pick-sixes, that’s what kills you. But I think another year, he has to get better at that and I know we keep saying it but his upside is so great that you’re willing to take that chance.”
It will be up to the Buccaneers’ brass to decide if they feel confident they can, in fact, find more consistency with the former Florida State Seminole. And, if so, at what price.
Thus far this offseason, Tampa Bay has been linked to veteran quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, and Ryan Tannehill.
They’re also rumored to be keen on draft-eligible arms Jacob Eason, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love. The latter two of which are expected to hear their names called in the top half of the first round come this April.
Arians and company appear to, at very least, be doing their due diligence while weighing all possible options.
Whether rumors from insider circles or just good old-fashioned connect-the-dots speculation, there is a ton of smoke billowing out of Tampa regarding their future at signal-caller. And, with free agency not opening for another six weeks (March 18), and the draft a month after that, it’s not likely to clear anytime soon.